Thursday, August 23, 2012

Realm of possibility: Invincible stand up paddleboards

Just last week I was shown a video of a stand up paddle board being driven over by a small car. Seriously. I can't post the video because I was told that it was super secret, double hush/hush new technology; if I get the go ahead signal you'll see it up here. 

Back to the clip, in it the driver revs his engine a couple of times and then slowly drives over the board like it was a speed bump. The board squeals like a little pig, rubber tires skimpering to get a purchase on slick fiberglass deck (was it fiberglass? who knows? remember double hush/hush) the little vehicle finally climbs up and over. My thought was, "That thing's toast". A well qualified thought because I once backed over a dude's surfboard in a parking lot (what type of genius sets his stick down behind someone else's truck?) and it was actually more pancake than toast. Unbelievably, in the secret film, the narrator then walks over to the board, picks it up and shows it to the camera- not a scratch on it. Unbelievable. Or is it? 

Don't try this at home... or with your favorite paddleboard

I've seen some serious progress in the area of SUP board materials this year. I've seen boards become lighter, thinner and stronger. It wasn't too long that the stand up paddle community was in a serious quandary over what to do about rail dings caused from beginning paddlers. There was even a product for sale specifically to protect the rail of your board, it was awful looking and killed the glide on boards all over the nation. We also used to put paddle edge protectors on our paddles, raiding AutoZone for door edging that we commandeered to help protect our boards and paddles from chipping and damage. I also remember, in the early days, a certain manufacturer (who shall remain nameless but since the name is cryptically one letter and one number I don't think you'll figure it out) trying to convince the paying public that those giant chips that sloughed off of their boards were a normal part of the construction. Yeah right.

The point is, that if you're just getting into stand up paddling, you've come in at a great time. There are boards and paddles out there now that are not only cheaper but that are constructed in a much stronger and better fashion. Boards with veneers of wood and bamboo that are seemingly invincible to the paddle hits they'll take from new stand up paddlers. I can't mention it here but there's more coming down the line, construction techniques and fiberglass/carbon fiber composites that were lifted straight off an Abrams A-1 mainline battle tank. Tough stuff. The realm of what is possible for stand up boards and paddles has expanded which means you could probably drive over your stand up board and it would be fine- but I wouldn't advise it.

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